Fun.: Some Nights Meaning
Song Released: 2012
Some Nights Lyrics
Some nights, I call it a draw
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they'd just fall off
But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not...
megdipaolo Mar 27th, 2013 3:25am report
The song is about the loneliness, uncertainty, and self-doubt that often comes with the painful progress of self-actualization, or fulfilling one's potential. The protagonist is Nate Ruess himself, as is often the case with his songs. They are all deeply personal.
Though everyone may interpret poetry however they like, to find their own meaning in whatever way relates most to them, the writer's true intentions are important. The top 3 interpretations of this song each have glaring inaccuracies that are inconsistent with the actual meaning of the lyrics. #3 is the most outrageous, I hope it's a joke. (Lips = kissing = it's about a girl?!) #1 is closest to the mark, but misses wide on the "war with potential dead brother-in-law" theory and interpretation of the significance of the desert. I think the song is much, much simpler, yet also more powerful, than most interpretations I've read.
I'm not saying I'm 100% right, but I strive to be more accurate than the current accepted submissions. My interpretation is based on knowledge of the songwriter's personal history and his other work. (I am not his sister, personal umbrella-holder, hamster, or left sock.)
It's actually pretty straightforward. "Some Nights" is a personal reflection of Nate's life, family, career, the sacrifices he made to achieve success, the sometimes disappointing emptiness of that success (how prophetic now that he's a mega-star), struggles with the choices he made, loss, guilt, even simply the pain of growing up, and hope. The same themes are woven throughout the entire album, some even begun in Aim & Ignite.
I won't go through every single line, but will focus on the ones that are most representative of the overall meaning.
"Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights I call it a draw
Some nights I wish that my lips would build a castle
Some nights I wish they'd just fall off"
Some nights he's performing in concerts, singing the songs he wrote, many of which deal with aforementioned themes. He vacillates between dreams of achieving superstar success in his career, and occasionally wishing he didn't have the burden of such a dream and the responsibilities and problems that can come with it.
Elsewhere on the album (in "Stars") he says "Some nights I rule the world/With Barlights and Pretty Girls/But most nights I stay straight and think about my mom/Oh God I miss her so much" which is an even more explicit reference to the lure of his career as an artist and performer and, of course, the quiet moments in between shows when he's alone with his emotions, particularly grieving the death of his mother. "Barlights" and "Pretty Girls" refer to songs from the band's previous album (two of the most popular, too!)
"But I still wake up, I still see your ghost..."
Said "ghost" appears several times, and could be his late mother, or his old self.
"Well that is it guys, that is all
5 minutes in and I'm bored again
Ten years of this
I'm not sure if anybody understands
This one is not for the folks at home
Sorry to leave, Mom, I had to go
Who the f** wants to die alone
All dried up in the desert sun?"
This line tricks people up, in conjunction with the war-themed video and the ongoing political and military conflicts in desert regions. It's got nothing to do with that.
Nate's been writing and performing for a long time - literally a decade at the time this song was written. He had to leave home, in Arizona, to focus on his career, leaving behind his family, which is a very close-knit one. His mother has since passed away, and he feels a lot of guilt and loss.
It was a difficult choice, wether to leave or stay. Many of us must make the choice at some point, maybe more than once. Simply put, this song is about leaving home, striking out on your own, and learning about who you are.
"So this is it?
I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of that for this?
I miss my mom and dad for this?"
He left home and everyone he loved, and isn't sure it was worth it. The success he's achieved isn't as fulfilling as he expected. At the time, it wasn't even the phenomenal success he'd go on to, but still impressive and life-altering. (Also, incidentally, his struggles with faith and religion are a common theme in his work.)
"When I see stars that's all they are, etc."
Stars are another recurrent theme, representing fate as well as fame. Here it means he no longer believes in fate, and possibly also that fame is not as glittering as we all dream. One could even maaaybe stretch it to believe that celebrities are just people, and stars are just stars.
"My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called "love"
But when I look into my nephew's eyes
Man you wouldn't believe
The most amazing things
That can come from some terrible nights"
(That "nights" has been confirmed by the band, not the oft-misquoted "lies".)
His elder sister, with whom he is close, has had to face her own unique challenges and personal loss. She's had responsibility of the greatest kind bestowed upon her. The love in her now-over relationship, which she either convinced herself of, shared, or was manipulated into believing, was false. But the love that was then *born of it* is precious and true. Even the most terrible nights can be worthwhile, literally, by resulting in a beloved child, or figuratively, resulting in personal growth, maturity, and wisdom.
Nate loves his nephew very much, and has previously sung to him on "Aim & Ignite". He has a strong sense of family. He also repeatedly refers to his mother, father, and sister, who are all vitally important to him.They represent stability, home, true love, loyalty, and forgiveness. They're the ones he can depend on and trust, who will love him no matter what he does, whatever "big mistakes" he makes.
The question of "What do I stand for?" is literal, also meaning "What inspires me?", "What motivates me?", "What do I really want from life?", "What makes me happy?","What defines me?", and other questions we all must ponder. What defines us is constantly changing, but it's up to us to decide how we define ourselves. (I don't believe it's at all political.)
"Most nights, I don't know anymore."
On the nights when he's doing what he loves, performing, "ruling the world", he feels secure. But most nights he's left struggling with the uncertainty that naturally bubbles up in everyone as we get older, lose friends, lose loved ones, start to drift a bit, start to move forward in our careers, our lives, essentially start realizing we're adults. (Making his "We Are Young" so much more bittersweet and powerful.) The trials of growing up and changing what you are, how you are, why you are, are universal. The one constant is who you are.
Additionally he has the more personal complications of fame, the loss of his mother and his former band, all exacerbated by his own heightened sensitivity and emotional perspicacity. Without his mother, who was such an important part of his life, he might be feeling like he's lost some of his ballast, setting him off balance. When the person who knows you best is gone, your very understanding of yourself, your own relationship with yourself, is shaken. You relied on that person to know you better than you know yourself, to give you guidance and insight into your own soul. It's a life-changing loss that forces you to wobble for quite some time.
Ironically, as Nate becomes more and more well-known, the very question of "What *do* you stand for?" will be asked of him almost relentlessly. We're doing it right now by attempting to extract as much meaning as we can from his lyrics, often assigning intentions that aren't even there. In doing so, we're revealing more of what we ourselves "stand for" even if we're not conscious of it.
Nate's very hard on himself in his songs. He's also incredibly honest, and lays bare a lot of his greatest fears and struggles. At its most basic, "Some Nights" is about those fears, doubts, regrets, and struggles, as well as hope.
anonymous Jul 6th, 2012 7:24pm report
This song is like a modern-day "Star Spangled Banner". Not only is it an anthem but it tells a story of two wars. There are two characters: Nate and his potentially dead brother-in-law.
Nate is currently fighting the same battle that every musician faces: leaving loved ones behind and compromising one's artistic integrity in order to pursue a career and profit. Lines like "here they come again to jack my style" could be a reference to the relationship between big record producers and their artists. He didn't "believe the hype" of what big music business does to the artist. The line "Ten years of this" could easily be connected to the career of Nate Ruess considering he first gained mainstream success in 2002 and signed with Elektra Records. Coincidence? Unlikely.
Here is a giant leap: did Nate Ruess's sister's husband die in a desert war? Did he claim that he loved her and their son but still chose to go overseas to war? If this is true, wouldn't he wake up every morning seeing the ghost of his wife and wonder what he stands for if he was willing to leave them all behind? The image of dying "alone all dried up in the desert sun" could easily be related to Iraq or Afghanistan. Not to mention this song is about war and these are the wars our country is currently fighting.
The ideas of missing "mom and dad for this", selling "my soul for this", can be interpreted in either war. In true war the soul is sold because the need for violence detracts from the human understanding of another soul. Any soldier overseas is also likely to miss his family and loved ones. In Nate's war he sold his soul to the record company and feels the artistic burden of pleasing his bosses and audience which will always compromise the integrity of one's art, one's soul.
Nate is also likely to have some girl that he really cared about but had to leave behind to fight this war. He also sees her ghost every morning and at the end of the song he dreams about her. He also asks "what do I stand for" if I'm willing to leave love to fight a war? Most artists need to leave home for NYC or LA to pursue the dream and it's hard to bring loved ones along for the ride.
This song begs the question of what any of us stand for if we are willing to compromise loving relationships for our selfish intents. What is this life worth if our actions towards our loved ones don't meet our words?
This is simply my interpretation of the song. I am not Nate, his sister, nephew or any member of his family.
anonymous May 19th, 2012 5:29pm report
Just a guess: The song is an anthem. But it's not written and performed for the traditional purpose, which is inspiring individuals to work and sacrifice for a higher purpose. Often that higher purpose is the successful completion of a military campaign. Here, however, the soldier singing this 'anthem' is questioning why he is fighting.
The song starts out with him excited to be at war and striving for what he believes is a noble cause. Yet he is haunted by the memory of the one he loves, left at home. As the song progresses, he begins to question how noble his quest truly is and all he is left with is all the bitterness that being at war has brought to the surface.
The "con man" towards the end is his sister's husband who probably believes that war is always noble, no matter what. He's a con man because he's preaching about war, but has never actually been to war himself. His nephew, the con man's son, is starting to believe his father's "lies."
anonymous Jan 2nd, 2015 1:22pm report
Ftr this song is about war, as shown in the music video.
Well ,I have read all of what others have wrote about what they think the meaning of this song is about and, I think they are all pretty good,but this song to me ,I do'nt believe there is any one out there that hears it the way that I do.'
'I will tell you why'. I started to hear 'the song,'' some nights ''not to long after my son Matthew died. ' Seems like every time I turned the radio on 'there it was playing on the radio''.
Even when I changed the station, it would come on within the first couple songs.''
Well, I told my daughter that I really liked this band and', there music.'' So she bought there CD for me .''
'You know, I thought that I knew all the words of 'some nights'' as many times as I had heard it ''but, when I got it home put it in my CD player and ,then took out the paper with the lyrics that come with the CD and, started to read the words 'l got goose bumps and started to shake when I read the verse ''mom I'm sorry I had to go,''who the f--k wants to die all dried up in the desert sun''.
''You see my son Matthew never got to say good by to me and ,the way he died just has haunted me and ,torn me up'. He was 24 when he died . He had his whole life ahead of him''. 'He cut that short the day he walked out into the desert with no water and, it was one of the hottest days of the summer.'
When they found him it was to late.''
'So when I realized the words to the song,''Some Nights'' said ,l think that my son Matthew is using this song to tell me he was sorry he had to leave,who the f--k wants to die all dried up in the desert sun'' and, then goes on to talk about his sister and nephew who'' my son was very close to .'
''It may be just me but, it so strang that when I start o think about Matthew this song starts to play .''
'Like I said I think you are all right about what you interpret the words as but, to me it is something more and, when I found out that Ruess was from Arizona that was crazy also seeing that is where my son died.''
Well that is all ''I just wanted to share that with someone out there '',you may think I'm crazy or you may believe like I believe '',that there is ways that the ones you love' when they die they do find ways to communicate from behind.'
anonymous Jun 30th, 2014 6:01pm report
I think this is about how Nate followed his music career. But like in the song he says "5 minutes in and I'm bored again" this is saying that he was very committed and excited at first but soon found that his option may have not been the best. Also then he goes on to say "Ten years of this I'm not sure if anybody understands" Here I can tell that what he is saying is that even though he was unsure early in his career he continued to try. And him talking about he is not sure if anybody understands is showing that he believes that he is in a unique situation and has obviously not talked to any people in his band. So as a song writer myself I believe that "Some Nights" is about the mental fight he is having between his love for his family and his music career.
piercerrain Oct 12th, 2013 10:34am report
i'm with megdipaolo on this one. anyone who reflects back on their life can probably say they have a story, feeling,regret etc... that can be expressed in the lyrics. we hear what we want to hear, and these lyrics are so lovely and expressive yet are very open to interpretation on almost any subject regarding the human condition. i myself feel as if the writer reached into my mind and wrote it just about me. the great songs will do that.
anonymous Jul 5th, 2013 7:42am report
So basically, this song is about divorce. nate's sister, libbie is getting a divorce. Lets look at the music video, it's a war correct and to me it looks like the revolutionary war,when America was fighting against its self. If you think about divorce it's exactly like that. The house is the country and the two people fighting and screaming are the two different sides.
Also it says this in the song
"My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called love
and when I look into my nephew’s eyes
Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from
Some terrible lies" (yes it is lies not nights just thought I'd let you know)
Now here he flat out says, "I'm sorry for the tough time my sister is going through and she married a con (a terrible guy) and thought she fell in love with him. and when I look into my nephews eyes, you wouldn't believe a child could come from so many lies"
Why would he be talking about his sister or his nephew in the song if they had nothing to do with it. Nate wouldn't do that, he's too much of a musical genius to do that.
anonymous May 15th, 2013 5:59pm report
Oh wow, I thought it was refering to Uncle Sam or Big Brother relative the "sister" and "nephew." So, terrible nights would be something like Big Brother spying on you while you conceive your son during a war that happened 10 years ago?
anonymous Apr 4th, 2013 4:37pm report
You guys are all oblivious dumbasses. This song is OBVIOUSLY about him selling his soul. "Some Nights I wish my lips could build a castle, some nights I wish they'd just fall off" Meaning, sometimes the fame which came from singing is great.. and he wants it.. other times he regrets it and wishes it would all just go away. He says he still sees the holy ghost yet he doesnt know for sure what he stands for, good or bad... much more shows this in what he says. Especially, "I sold my soul for this, I missed my mom and dad for this." OBVIOUS DUMBASSES!!!!!!!
anonymous Mar 12th, 2013 3:45pm report
Am I the only person who thought it was about the Iraq war?
anonymous Mar 5th, 2013 3:31pm report
I think he´s just talking about personal life experiences, maybe related to someone going to war, but in any case, he´s from Arizona, so when he says "Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert" he´s talking about stayin with his parents until he becomes old.
anonymous Mar 5th, 2013 3:47pm report
I think this means that Nate is at war with himself. The song is saying that he feels that he is at war with himself in the past. This being the ghost. When he says 'Try twice as hard and I'm half as liked' i think he is saying that he feels precisely and quite obviously that he tries too hard and isnt liked. The sister and con could be that alongside all his problems, he recognises other people do too. But he sees is nephew as the silver lining.
anonymous Mar 2nd, 2013 3:52am report
this song could be interpreted a thousand times over but I'm sure none of us would truly be able to crack what the writer was thinking. The video helps us interpret what they want us to think the song was written about but songs can have multiple meanings.
"Some nights I stay up, cashing in my bad luck", Obviously with this line he's trying to state that he's got a lot of bad luck and is trying to get rid of it but obviously this doesn't always work, "Sometimes I call it a draw."
He doesn't specifically say in the song where this bad luck comes from, maybe what he considers badluck others might not, if it is about his career then he might see the press as bad luck but we cannot be sure what this bad luck is or where it came from.
When he talks about his lips building a castle, he could be referring to speech, singing or kissing.
So maybe he is trying to say something big to tell someone, maybe he wants to sing to someone or maybe he really wants to kiss someone and at times maybe he feels that it is pointless and he wishes he would stop trying so is wanting them to fall off.
When he says "I still wake up, I still see your ghost, Oh lord I'm still not sure what I stand for", When he mentions ghost maybe it's a memory of a loved one or maybe he is referring to the Holy Ghost as he goes on to mention "Oh lord", Possibly referring to a belief but only possibly. He isn't sure what he stands for, what is the point in fighting against society?Maybe that's what the war is, the war against morals, because in all honesty what do we stand for? Do we stand for the right or the wrong? How do we justify what is right or wrong? The only way we can determine this is if a) there is a higher power (such as a God) that has already set the rules B) we make up the rules of what is right and wrong but we all have a sense of morale obligations, how could we possibly decide that shooting someone is right so it is obvious there must be a higher power. The song is asking do we stand for good or bad? Maybe referring to the fact that without a God we don't really stand for anything, I still wake up I still see your Ghost oh lord I'm still not sure what I stand for. He's asking God if he stands for good or evil, maybe on a higher level talking about the common battles of society of what is wrong and what isn't. You see what I mean when I say that this song could be interpreted a thousand times over?
anonymous Feb 17th, 2013 2:05pm report
Many people can hear this song many different ways. I, personally, think this song is about him fighting his own "war". This "war" would be his music career.
"This is it, boys, this is war-what are we waiting for? Why dont we break the rules already?" I think this is Nate talking to Jack and Andrew saying that the the music industry is a "war" and that if they want to become succussful, they need to be different and "break the rules".
"I try twice as hard and I'm half as liked, but here they come again to jack my style" This could mean that they have tried harder and longer than most people to become famous and still so many people are very critical and dont like their music, but still take their style of performing and singing.
"Well, some nights I wish that this all would end, 'cause I could use some friends for a change." Since they all had to leave their friends, families, and homes for this lifestyle, they might regret it some nights and want to quit and have their lifes go back to the way they were before they became musicains.
"And some nights I'm scared you'll forget me again, Some nights I always win." They might be talking about how their previous bands never became very popular and maybe even how their first album, Aim and Ignite, never became very well known. But also how some nights everyone knows who they are and how everyone knows all of their songs.
"But I still wake up, I still see your ghost, oh, Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for." He still wakes up every morning even if the night before was really bad, and he sees his past life, and doesn't know who he is.
"So this is it. I sold my soul for this? Washed my hands of that for this? I miss my mom and dad for this?" People sometimes refer to joining the music industry as "selling your soul to the devil," so that might be what he means. He also had to leave his mom and dad in Arizona to become a singer.
"No. When I see stars, when I see, when I see stars, that's all they are. When I hear songs, they sound like this one, so come on." He could be saying how being in this lifestyle has made him to where he can't notice the difference/beauty in some things anymore. He could also be saying that he performs the same songs, every night, and that they are starting to sound the same to him.
"Well that is it guys, that is all - five minutes in and I'm bored again. Ten years of this, I'm not sure if anybody understands." Their songs tend to adverage out to about 5 minutes long, so he might get bored after the first song and not want to keep singing them night after night. He has been in the music industry for about 10 years professionally, and over thoes ten years, he has been dropped by different recording agencies, his previous band has broken up, and he thinks that no one can really understand what that has done to him mentally.
"This one is not for the folks at home; Sorry to leave, mom, I had to go" He knew that he couldn't really get famous if he stayed in Arizona, and he feels bad for leaving his mom.
"Who the ____ wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun." Nate has refered to Arizona as a desert in other songs, and he might be afraid of dying without finding the love of his life, or having a song hit #1 on the charts.
"My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called "love". When I look into my nephew's eyes... Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from... Some terrible nights..." Nate's sister might have been in a bad/abusive relationship with some guy. But that relationship also gave her a wonderful son, and he(Nate) sees that something great can come out of some thing horrible.
"The other night you wouldn't believe the dream I just had about you and me, I called you up but we both agreed. It's for the best you didn't listen, It's for the best we get our distance." He may still miss a girl from Arizona and had a dream about her and wanted to tell her about it but they decided it would be best if he didn't. OR he might have had a dream about his old life, and how it would be now if he wasn't famous, but decided that it was for the best that he left, and that he is where he is now.
Like I said, this song can be interprited many differet ways. This is just how I understand it.
This song is a testimony of past and present, presented with the use of "a war" as a metaphor for the artiste's life - a battle with his personal life and his career.
[Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck /Some nights I call it a draw / Some nights I wish that my lips could build a castle/ Some nights I wish they'd just fall off]
Here the artiste is thinking about everything that went wrong in his life which he considers to be "bad luck" but seeing that he has progressed in life to some extent he'll "call it a draw". He wishes
that the things he says/sings could guarantee him security or wealth, but sometimes he wishes not to be able to say anything at all, maybe because he does not believe in what he's saying.
[But I still wake up, I still see your ghost/ Oh, Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh/ What do I stand for? What do I stand for?/ Most nights I don't know anymore...]
However through it all he manages to come out of it, though he is constantly envisioning someone, probably a loved one who he lost as he referred to them as a "ghost", and maybe the relationship they had, how things were in the past with them...with him, is causing him to question what he stands for ..."What do I stand for?" because he really doesn't know anymore, is this the life that he really wants?
[This is it, boys, this is war - what are we waiting for?/ Why don't we break the rules already?/ I was never one to believe the hype/ Save that for the black and white/ I try twice as hard and I'm half as liked,
But here they come again to jack my style]
This verse is potent with battle imagery, "this is it, this is war..." I believe the artiste is talking about the music industry here, where he believes this is his time to make a change... "why don't we break the rules already?" he never believed what was said about the industry "i was never one to believe the hype", he was leaving such predudices for "...the black and white", those people willing to choose sides, he was not about that, he doubles his efforts to produce his kind of music and get across his message, but people still don't like it "...try twice as hard and I'm half as liked" this is in comparison to other music artistes, and [they] in "...here they come again to jack my style" probably meaning the music producers, how they treat him and put him down try to take away his integrity and instill what they want in him.
[That's alright;/ I found a martyr in my bed tonight/ She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am/ Oh, who am I? Mmm... Mmm...]
Through all of this, there is a woman who he seems to love so much, she distracts him from questioning his life, his purpose, his beliefs... (this is a stretch) but it seems that she's not a constant aspect of his life, as he just happened to have found her in his bed on that night, and maybe she is the ghost that was mentioned before. The word "martyr" is someone who "sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle" (this is another stretch) maybe this woman "the ghost" ended their relationship because she did not believe in the life he was about to go into(the music industry) which would also tie into him not believing the hype, and this is why she constantly haunts him because she might have warned him against it before.
[Well, some nights I wish that this all would end/ 'Cause I could use some friends for a change./ And some nights I'm scared you'll forget me again/ Some nights I always win, I always win...]
He has his doubts, and sometimes he realizes it isn't worth it and would like to leave it, because he misses having genuine people in his life who actually cares, and sometimes he is scared that "the woman" will forget him, and the person that she knew him to be, and sometimes life seems to be just great, as he "...always wins" (it is possible this could be references awards of some kind)
[So this is it. I sold my soul for this?/ Washed my hands of that for this?/ I miss my mom and dad for this?]
This again is laden with war imagery, it appears the artiste has given up his whole life for something that is pointless, he "sold his soul" (putting aside his beliefs, his character - as expected when going into battle) to go into this war, washed his hands "of that" maybe this is refering to the relationship he had to go into this war, also leaving his mom and dad to go to this war... this "war" is a metaphor for his pursuit to be a successful musician. It is evident that he wishes to go back to his life before.
[Well, that is it guys, that is all - five minutes in and I'm bored again/ Ten years of this, I'm not sure if anybody understands/ This one is not for the folks at home;/Sorry to leave, mom, I had to go
Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun?]
He's tired of doing the same thing he's "bored again", after doing it for ten years, nobody would understand because they would think "that's the life!", he isn't talking about those he left behind, because they would understand that they're more important things in life, he's apologising to his mom for having to leave but after all of this still thinks he had to go, because no one "...wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun." This may not necessarily mean literally dying alone - having no one around him, but dying without being famous, not accomplishing anything - in his homeland (which is Arizona).
[My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she call "love"/When I look into my nephew's eyes.../ Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from.../Some terrible nights...]
This could be taking in two ways, he feels for his sister because she really believes in love and he himself would state that love does not get you far... or he feels for his sister because she has been hurt by love...she may have been in a relationship, where she has born a son but the father has left her, and it gives the impression that her relationship was not a pleasant one, maybe she was abused or cheated on, but through out all of it one good thing has come from it, the nephew... which he considers "the most amazing thing". The last line could serve dual meanings, that though the sister has been abused some nights, or cheated on some nights, her nights of pain seems worth it because she has a beautiful son, or... his pain (the artiste), being away from home, missing his mom and dad, having to leave the one he loved, struggling with the music industry, in the end he is able to produce an amazing song like this.
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